Bryan Wood grew up playing lacrosse on Long Island and was the Fran McCall Award winner in the early 90's. He has played and coached lacrosse for the past several decades on Long Island, Upstate New York and currently in Charleston, South Carolina. Coach Wood will be in Delaware for the NLC this summer helping team Carolina chase down the title.
1. Eyes on the hips- On ball defenders, body position is important, but more important than anything is eye focus. Focus on the attacker’s hips, where the hips face is where they’re going. Far too often we see “cradle watching” (watching the ball in the stick), which usually results in the defender being left in the dust.
2. Make contact- Lacrosse is a contact sport (even girls lacrosse)! Your approach to the player with the ball should be in short choppy steps, focusing on their hips, making contact with your knuckles or forearm. And once contact is made, stay with it. Don’t let up.
3. Speaking of making contact- I’m a big believer in directing the player with the ball to their weak hand. You should know the opposing players dominant hand and over play that side of their body. Force them to make shots and passes from their weak hand and it’s game over.
4. Two things matter when it comes to winning, and it’s not goals or assists- The teams that focus on ground balls and defensive slides are the same teams that win. Practice ground balls. You practice throwing against a wall and a bounce back, defenders need to practice groundballs. Get to a field and roll the ball in front of you, over and over and over again. When you are having a catch with your friend, practice ground balls.
5. Play as a team defensively- You are not guarding that player, you are playing defense as a team. When you see a teammate slide or pinch, find the opposing player they just left and compute in your brain who is more dangerous, the player you’re guarding or the one that is now wide open. 2nd slides and 3rd slides are what separates teams and limits easy goals.
Most importantly, have fun and play hard. See you in Delaware!